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Men’s College Soccer. Things Are Heating Up. A Lot Of Excellent Contests Are On Tap This Weekend.

These Early Season Contests May Be Revealing.

Kentucky (4-0-0) vs. Tulsa (3-0-0) Saturday – Both teams are off to a very promising start. Both entered the 2022 season with high expectations and come into this one undefeated.

Kentucky is coming off a 3-2 win over in-state rival Louisville. They have been solid on both sides of the ball with shutout wins over UIC 2-0, Seattle 1-0 and Belmont 3-0.

Tulsa has scored 12 goals and only allowed one in three games to date. However, they looked to be headed for a loss in a match with Wisconsin that they were trailing 3-0 before it was ruled a no contest when halted in the 69th minute of play. That game indicates that Tulsa is vulnerable.

This looks to be a push come to shove something has to give contest. Just what and who is going to give way remains to be seen.

Duke (3-0-0) vs. Louisville (3-1-0) – Saturday – Louisville got off to an impressive start with wins over Saint Louis and Seattle. The Cardinals are coming off a physical and emotional 3-2 loss on the road to rival Kentucky.

Duke has not allowed a goal to date in their three wins but this is their first contest away from the friendly confines of Koskinen Stadium and by far their most difficult opponent. Both teams need a win in this key early season ACC contest.  

Stanford (4-0-0) vs Creighton (3-1-0) – Friday – The jury is still out on a Stanford team that has four wins to date this year but is coming off an unexpected 6-6-6 record in 2021. A Stanford team that was unranked in preseason polls has rocketed upward in the rankings with brand recognition no doubt a contributing factor.

Creighton’s stock rose when they opened the season with two wins but then took a nose dive after a 3-2 loss at home to Saint Louis and a disappointing 2-2 tie with San Diego State, 

This will be Stanford’s first game on the road. There are several unknowns about both teams this early in the season. What we do know is that Morrison Stadium in Omaha will be rocking. Creighton could pull off the upset but in order to do so they are going to have to tighten up considerably on the defensive side of the ball.  

Maryland (2-1-1) vs. Georgetown (1-1-2) – Saturday – Georgetown entered the 2022 season with more than the usual number of voids to fill due to departures so a learning curve was expected. A Georgetown win in this one would signal that things are falling into place for the Hoyas. Georgetown has played everyone close with the exception of a 5-2 dominating win over Temple but otherwise they have not displayed the big play ability needed to close out contests.

Maryland comes into this one off a larger than expected 6-1 win over Virginia. The Teprs were defeated  2-0 by Denver at home while Georgetown tied Denver 1-1 at home should you place any value on comparisons against like opponents.

This one also falls into the something has to give category and could go either way depending on who is able to settle into a rhythm.

UCLA (3-1-0) vs. Portland (2-0-2) – Saturday – The Bruins looked to be back on track before their three-win streak was halted by a 3-2 loss to Grand Canyon. The fact that UCLA had to play a man down from the 37th minute was a contributing factor. A good crowd should be on hand at Merlo Field to welcome the Bruins as they play their first contest of the season away from home.

Portland is unbeaten through their first four contests for the first time since 2018 and is coming off a good 3-1 over Seton Hall.

Both teams have the potential to be very good but how good remains to be seen. Bruin head coach Ryan Jorden and Portland head coach Nick Carlin-Vogt will learn a lot about the mettle of their teams in this one. Any weaknesses that may exist will be exploited.

Akron (4-0-0) vs. Indiana (1-1-1) – Friday – Akron opened the season with an impressive 5-3 win over FIU in Miami and has continued to look good in three subsequent wins. Ten different players have scored in Akron’s first four games.

Four different players have scored for Indiana during their first three matches. Breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball hampered Indiana in their season opening 3-2 loss to Clemson and in a subsequent 3-3 tie at home against Portland.

Both of these teams will win a lot of games but this one has the look and feel of a contest that could set the pace for both teams for the remainder of the season.

FIU (3-1-0) vs. New Hampshire (1-2-0) – Saturday –New Hampshire looked to be well positioned to build on an outstanding 17-win 2021 season. The Wildcats have utilized transfers to fill gaps in the past which is effective but there is always a concern in regard to how well the pieces will fit together. New Hampshire opened the season with a 2-1 loss to Maryland followed by a disappointing 1-0 loss to Boston University. The Wildcats picked up their first win of the season when they edged VCU 1-0.

FIU rebounded from a season opening loss to Akron to win three straight including a signature 2-1 win over UNC in Chapel Hill. New Hampshire is a much more talented team that their current record indicates. Accordingly, it would be a mistake to underestimate this group. This one could go down to the wire.

Notre Dame 1-1-1 vs. Syracuse (3-0-1) – Saturday – Notre Dame has not performed as well to date as expected while Syracuse has exceeded expectations. However, it is too early in the season to reach any definite conclusions about how the season will play out.

The Irish are coming off a 3-2 win over Michigan State. Syracuse is coming off a 5-0 win over UConn.

This one will come down to which team is able to finish the opportunities that come their way in the attacking third and remains organized on the defensive side of the ball. It could go either way. Not much more to say.  

Pittsburgh (3-1-0) vs. North Carolina (2-1-0) – Friday – Pitt looked unbeatable after opening the season with a 2-1 win over Georgetown and a 3-0 win over West Virginia but then they were topped 2-1 by Marshall. The Panthers enter this one off a dominating 5-0 win over Howard.

The Tar Heels will seek to rebound from a 2-1 loss at home to FIU.

It is difficult to determine which team will get their attack in gear when Pitt and UNC square off. Pitt thumped North Carolina 4-0 when they hosted the Tar Heels last year. North Carolina upset the Panthers 3-0 when the two tangled in Chapel Hill in 2020 (spring 2021).

Much will depend on who is able to set the tempo. Chances are pretty good this ACC season opener for both teams will be a multi-goal game.

Butler (3-0-0) vs. Ohio State (3-0-1) – Friday – Butler is off to a great start that includes a 1-0 win over nationally ranked Marshall. The Bulldogs have scored a total of five goals and allowed one in three contests.  

Ohio State is also off to a good start with three consecutive wins after a season opening tie with South Carolina. The Buckeyes have scored a total of seven goals while allowing one.

The statistics would indicate that neither team has a high margin for error. The outcome could be decided by a single goal. This match is important because it will give the winner much needed momentum that they can build upon.

The play in goal of Ohio State’s Keagan McLaughlin and Butler’s Gabriel Gjergil could be the difference maker in this one.

Hofstra (2-2-0) vs Monmouth (2-1-0) – Saturday – Hofstra entered the 2022 season with high hopes after a program best 18-win 2021 season but so far they have not performed as expected.

Monmouth opened the 2022 campaign with a promising season opening 1-0 win over St. John’s followed by a 2-1 win over Howard but reality came to town when they came out on the short end of a 2-0 loss to UNCW in their inaugural CAA contest. Both teams need a win in this CAA contest.

UMBC (4-0-0) at Fordham (2-1-1) – Friday – UMBC is off to their best start since the 2013 season.  The contest with Fordham will be a tough test for the Retrievers and a good measure of just how competitive they are.

NC State (2-0-1) vs. Wake Forest (4-0-0)–Saturday – Wake Forest is unbeaten and off to a great start. The Demon Deacons have been explosive on the offensive side of the ball and rock solid on defense. Wake Forest should prevail but it would be a mistake to take NC State for granted. The Wolfpack will come to Winston-Salem expecting to prevail. It should be a good season opening ACC contest  

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